Dickens v. Ryan

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Habeas Corpus
  • Date Filed: 01-24-2014
  • Case #: 08-99017
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: En Banc; Circuit Judge N.R. Smith for the Court; Partial Concurrence by Chief Judge Kozinski; Concurrence by Circuit Judge Watford; Partial Concurrence and Partial Dissent by Judge Callahan; Partial Concurrence and Partial Dissent by Judge Christen
  • Full Text Opinion

When otherwise procedurally defaulted from raising a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, a petitioner may otherwise succeed if he can show cause and prejudice by establishing that the claim is substantial, in the initial PCR hearing they were either not represented or had ineffective assistance of counsel, a state PCR hearing was their initial review proceeding, and state law required them to bring the claim in their initial review.

Gregory Dickens was found guilty of the felony murder and armed robberies of two motorists and conspiracy to commit armed robbery. He was sentenced to death for the felony murders. Dickens was denied post-conviction relief ("PCR") and had his sentence and conviction affirmed by the Arizona Supreme Court. A petition for writ of habeas corpus was then filed by Dickens under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona which denied his petition and was affirmed on appeal. Both parties appealed for the case to be reheard en banc. Dickens argued that in upholding his death sentence the Arizona Supreme court unreasonably applied Enmund/Tison, that the decision of the Arizona Supreme Court was based on unreasonable determination of facts, and ineffective assistance of counsel at sentencing. The Ninth Circuit, en banc, held that the Arizona Supreme Court did not unreasonably apply Enmund/Tison, that the decision was based on a reasonable determination of facts, and that Dickens was procedurally defaulted from bringing his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel but that the case should be remanded to determine under the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Martinez v. Ryan if Dickens could show cause and prejudice. In order to show cause under Martinez on remand, Dickens would have to establish that his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel is substantial, that he was not represented at his initial PCR hearing or had ineffective assistance of counsel, a state PCR hearing was the original review proceeding, and he was required to bring the claim in his initial review as required by state law. AFFIRMED in part, VACATED in part, and REMANDED.

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